Well-timed for Veterans Day, former Navy SEAL commander Rorke Denver gave an inspirational keynote speech before a packed audience attending the third day of EXPCON 2020 in eXp World.
EXPCON 2020 is the 11th annual conference where eXp agents, brokers, staff and guests can attend to learn about eXp. For the first time in its history, the event is being held virtually.
Fittingly, three-time ICON Agent and former U.S. Marine Rod Obee (Virginia area) served as the emcee for this special talk and inspired the crowd before introducing Denver. Obee has his own impressive military story, as highlighted here.
Denver led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and other international hot spots as a Navy SEAL, and after his illustrious military career ended, he became a New York Times best-selling author (“Worth Dying For” and “Damn Few”) and actor (“Act of Valor”). His impressive bio can be found here.
Denver shared some of his guiding principles with the audience.
“Constantly Improve Your Position”
During a military field exercise, Denver told of an incident when he needed to take a knee from his position, which was the right thing to do. However, his commander said, “If you took cover behind that tree, you would probably survive. That would be a better position.”
The next day, during another exercise, Denver remembered his commander’s advice and took a knee behind a tree. Thinking he was going to receive praise, his commander instead came over to him and said, “If you took a knee behind that rock outcropping, that is a better position than the tree and you would probably survive.”
Denver said the moral of the story is to ‘constantly improve your position.’ It could be behind a tree, or a wall, or a building. This lesson can be applied to life and your business.
“Calm is Contagious”
During another military exercise, Denver was leading his team through a practice mission but realized they were 10 minutes behind schedule, which he knows was not a good thing. All of a sudden, one of his buddies starts running around, yelling things out. The lead instructor comes over, tells everyone to take a knee, and says, “As officers, the only thing you need is to know is that others will mimic your behavior. If you lose it, they will lose it. Calm is contagious. If you keep your head, you will keep your head!”
Denver said you can apply this mantra to anything: “Panic is contagious,” “Positivity is contagious” and so on.
Audience Q&A With Rorke Denver
Q. When was a time you failed miserably?
“None that were catastrophic. But, once, when I lost my patience, I tried to micro-manage my team. I told them how to do something and in that act, I lost my leadership bubble. I should’ve let them run with the ball.”
Q. How do you keep going?
“Think of others’ pain and take action. The only thing you need to do is not quit. You might not get to the finish line you want but you will go a lot further than you wanted to.”
Q. How do you avoid pain?
“Don’t avoid pain. It’s a hard thing to inoculate against, but no one celebrates easy things. You celebrate hard work with pride and passion.”
Q. How do you overcome fear?
“With courage. Do things that scare you.”
Q. People you look up to?
“Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln, philosophers. My dad.”
Q. Good books?
“Anything about Churchill and Ulysses S. Grant.”
Q. What’s your motivation through tough days:
“My military training set me up for success. There are few things I can control, but I can control my attitude.”
Q. As a leader, how does your team impact your decisions?
“Open it up to the team. Best ideas can rise like cream. Listen to them. As you go up chain, it’s easy to lose perspective, but if you listen to your people, ideas float up from there.”
Q. How do you maintain restraint through politics?
“Only one person can hurt or help so much. We’re all in it together. With courtesy, we’ll get through it, like teamwork.”
8 Breakout Tracks Were Held Covering Real Estate Topics for Beginners to Influencers
On Wednesday, 8 breakout tracks were held along the themes of FastTrack (for new agents), Mentoring, ICON, Excel, Influencer (agent leaders growing the brokerage), Coaching, Global and eXp (Commercial, Preferred Partners).
Here are some highlights:
FastTrack Series hosted by Jeff Rubenstein:
Ray Leonard Jr., son of boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard, and business partner Dr. Joy Wright, a retired Navy and former F-14 flight officer, appeared in the first FastTrack session and spoke about a variety of things.
Leonard addressed agents’ frustration with having to work 24/7:
“You need to create boundaries to make sure business doesn’t bleed into your personal life,” said Leonard. “Make sure everything is as planned out as possible. Set time aside for your family and for dinner. And besides, everyone is accessible by technology.”
Wright agreed and said, “You can’t always account for unforeseen circumstances, but you need to learn to say no.”
Excel Series, Hosted by Jeff Sibbach and Phil Sexton
Arizona real estate team Jeff Sibbach and Phil Sexton talked about how to create a client base and how to do it naturally.
“Find groups to meet people. But, try to be natural. Figure out your strengths and then go to a group with a sense of contribution. Business will come from it when you don’t try to create a business from it. Lead with good intentions. It’s not about ‘how quickly can I ask them for business?’”
“Go to the dog park to meet people. You have to be creative. Everyone has a pet. Use your pet to meet people. I call it social hacking. You can’t be the hoodie guy with headphones on, walking around the neighborhood. You need to reach out, say hello and introduce yourself.”
Mentorship Series, Hosted by Beth Silverman
Beth Silverman, an eXp agent located in the Tampa area, gallantly hosted the mentorship sessions despite receiving real-time warnings to evacuate her home as a tropical storm Eta was bearing down upon her region.
Silverman asked Cathy Austin, an Army vet who is licensed in the greater Washington D.C. area and who mentors Lisa Green how their mentor-mentee relationship works.
Green said, “Cathy listens, she understands, and knows my weaknesses and helps strengthen me. Ultimately, my successes are her successes.”
Austin said that all her mentees are different and she needs to find out their needs. But ultimately, she said that “people control their own success and they will have to study the playbook and run the play.”
Mentorship Session, Hosted by Renee Funk
In a tragic incident in September 2014 that shook the entire real estate industry, Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter was abducted during a showing and eventually murdered several days later. Her son, Carl Carter Jr., who is also a real estate agent, appeared with Renee Funk to talk about the incident and how other real estate agents can protect themselves.
Carter said there is a misconception that agents are immensely wealthy, which is why his mother was targeted. To help be safe, Carter started the Beverly Carter Foundation to create awareness.
He said eXp is “leaps and bounds ahead” due to its virtual brokerage model, but shared some tips that agents can take:
- Use virtual platforms to help vet people. Hop on a Zoom call.
- Get an ID for every client you’re working with.
- Save contact info on your phone and info on how you met them.
- Share your location with your spouse and office.
- Make sure the buyer is pre-approved.
Influencer Session Hosted by Carlos German
Carlos German (Florida) hosted a series on how to attract other agents to eXp. His own personal advice is, “The more you sell, the more you can grow your network.”
Ken Williams, a fellow agent in Florida, said, “I’m like a lot of other people here. What I do is bring value and I’m not afraid to ask if there’s anyone else I can help. Also, I can’t just go out and attract. Attracting is only part of it; they have to be productive in order to get any residual income. I still represent eXp, I still represent opportunity and I start speaking to the lender, title company, inspector. It’s already in line. You taught me to stack. So now I just stack what I’m already doing and I’m adding value to that.”
Dan Hilsman, an eXp agent in Powder Springs, GA, said, “I was only going to do what worked for people who were successful. I’m a student of the game and I latch onto those that are having success and pick their brain. It’s super simple how I do it. Attracting agents overall is follow a simple system of trying to be a human and talking to agents and be sincerely interested in them and their needs and see if they are open to hearing about real estate opportunities. I’m just casual and not pushy at all. I just focus on their needs.”
ICON Session Hosted by Michelle Saward
During one portion of the ICON session she was hosting, Michelle Saward (Michigan) asked her panelists if they had to do it all over again, what would they do differently?
John Tsai, an ICON agent in Vancouver, B.C., said, “I probably would’ve started with online lead generation instead of grinding. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said with a laugh. “And, join eXp ASAP to be able to build more streams of income. Also, making sure I take care of my family first and my health. I sacrificed that in the first ten years, and it was bad, so I’m working on that. Leverage sooner, hire assistants if you can. And yes — online lead generation.”
Jason Simard, also of Vancouver, had 134 deals in his first year in real estate. He said he hit rock-bottom just before getting into real estate, so he had a lot of “fire in his belly and needed to make it happen.” He came to the business with a lot of motivation, working seven days a week for the first couple of years.
However, he said his biggest regret is not having enough balance in those years and in retrospect, he would’ve let some of those deals go. He said he knows not to do it at the expense of his family.
But his advice to others is: “Have the right systems and people around you and the right team culture. Culture is everything. Your biggest asset is your people. I get triggered when someone says this is ‘my buyer’s agent.’ No, it’s your business partner. Or when someone says, ‘this is my staff member.’ No – it’s your business partner. I really make sure everyone has a collective upside to the growth of the company.”
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